As some of you may have gathered from my last post on Lowe Alpine’s new range of Dryflo base layers, I was rather impressed by what they had to offer in terms of performance and value for money; so much so, in fact, that I decided to buy some for myself. With winter now in full-flow, this should be the ideal time to put them through their paces, I thought.
I went for the Dryflo 150 LS Top; a steal at £31.50, and with it the slightly thinner Dryflo 120 Pants at £22.50; ideal for those who, like me, tend to feel the cold less in the legs than the torso. You can read my full report on the tech featured on the Lowe Dryflo range in my original post HERE, but just to recap, the features I sought to test were wicking ability/dry time, odour management, and temperature control.
What better way to test all of these features than to take out the Lowe base layers on the road bike, over the sweatiest roads available, in temperatures barely above freezing? That was my plan!
The route I took involved cycling north on the western side of the lovely Quantock hills, en-route to the notoriously steep and demanding ‘Crowcombe hill‘ up and over, before returning back down eastern side of the Quantocks to Taunton. Not a particularly long route, but quite a demanding one – especially considering the infrequency of my rides lately.
The first part was fairly sedate, with moderate gradients and pleasant up-and-downs on the back roads towards Bishops Lideard. My Dryflo items handled that admirably, staving off the chill no problem on the descents, and keeping me comfortably cool on the climbs. But then I would have expected that, having read the stats.
Things got much more serious when I entered the Quantocks proper. Heading up the road from Crowcombe to Over Stowey, the gradient rapidly started ramping up, past a vehicle escape lane: you know it’s going to be quite a hill when an unclassified road needs one of those! I soon found myself switching down into my lowest gear as the gradient climbed past 15%, before starting to wish I had a few even lower ones. The 9 minute climb, averaging 17%, was a serious burning lungs and legs experience, and though I won’t be winning any hill climb competitions for my effort, I was pretty chuffed just to reach the cattle grid at the top – one final obstacle on an absolute pig of a climb! The words “Nearly There!” helpfully spray-painted onto the road surface about 3/4 of the way up, helped a little.
Despite my head being dripping with sweat by the top, I didn’t feel the need to rip off layers as I do in some bike wear after/during a big climb. The Lowe Dryflos wicked exceptionally well, keeping me both cooler and drier than I would ever have expected from such affordable base layers. So they passed the first real test with flying colours!
At this point, I was up on top of the Quantock common, with some very nice views across Somerset, to the Bristol Channel and Wales beyond it. I stopped for a few minutes to take a few snaps and soak it up. This was the next test for the Dryflo base layers, i.e. stopping me from cooling down too much. Despite the fact that I didn’t put on any additional layers, my temperature cooled down to a pleasant degree, but no further. I was quite warm enough to stand around for 10 minutes in just base layers, cycling tights and long-sleeved jersey, and a windproof vest. This was fortunate as I had no rucksack or saddlebag in which to store extra clothing (tut tut). Second test, passed!
My ride back home took in some more fairly hilly terrain, with some eye-watering descents and one surprise climb, which though short, was even more gear-grindingly steep than the earlier one. I arrived back in Taunton having sweat what felt like a few pints, and feeling quite tired indeed.
With ride over, it was time for the final test, odour control. It passed that one too, as there was no noticeable smell at all. In addition there was no hint of a wet patch underarm or on the back (usually the sweatiest regions), a testament to the effectiveness of the Dryflo’s wicking action, and its Cocona (coconut particle) technology. Now know a couple hours on the bike is hardly going to result in dreadful body odour, but as an initial test it will have to do. Luckily, since my ride last Sunday I have worn my Dryflo base layers over a two-day period in North Wales, including a sizeable hike on Cadair Idris. I will report on how they coped in my next blog post!
My verdict on the new Lowe alpine Dryflo range is clear: they’re excellent. They perform brilliantly in all three main areas I assess base layers on, wicking, warmth and odour control, and they feel comfy against the skin to boot. So if you’re looking for a high-performance base layer at a very reasonable price, look no further than Lowe Alpine’s Dryflo range.